Utah Jazz: Predicting the Jazz Starting Lineup for the 2013-14 Season
The Utah Jazz are one of a few teams in the NBA who are set for the future. They have a pile of talented, young prospects who are ready to break out into the scene, but cannot find the minutes right now due to depth at particular positions.
Four of the five current Jazz starters are on expiring contracts, and the team possesses growing young players at almost every position.
How will the starting lineup for the Jazz look next season? Which players will be re-signed, and which players will be gone?
This slideshow will predict the starting player at every position in the 2013-14 season.
PG: Mo Williams
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Mo Williams hasn't seen the floor in about two months due to a ligament tear in his right thumb. He's also on an expiring contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
However, the Jazz should really look to re-sign him. Williams would be a great point guard leader among a group of young players with little experience in the league.
Before his injury, Williams was averaging 12.9 PPG and 6.7 APG in a modest 31 minutes per game. His per-36 minute averages round up to 14.8 points and and 7.6 assists (per Basketball Reference).
Unlike every other position, the Jazz don't have a talented, young player at point guard. On top of that, there won't be any better point guard available in the 2013 offseason, except for the obvious Chris Paul, who most likely will be staying with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nonetheless, Williams is a very capable point guard in his own right. He might be a bit overpaid right now, earning $8.5 million this season, but he would probably accept a lower salary if the Jazz offer him a new contract before next season.
SG: Alec Burks
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The Jazz youth movement starts with Alec Burks at the 2-guard.
With Randy Foye's contract expiring and Raja Bell's detachment from the team, the door is wide open for the young Burks to step into the spotlight.
Burks is an exceptional athlete with great slashing abilities and decent court vision. He's shooting a respectable 36 percent from beyond the arc this season, but his shooting is spotty, at best.
Standing at 6'6" he's already an above-average defender at his position.
Burks' per-36 minute numbers this season are 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. If Foye is gone, Burks will have a bigger opportunity to show what he's capable of, and his inconsistent play this season will improve once he gets the confidence from playing more minutes.
SF: Gordon Hayward
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Gordon Hayward should have been starting over Marvin Williams since the beginning of the season. In fact, he's probably the best all-around player on the entire team.
The versatile 6'8" swingman has demonstrated his ability to shoot, pass, dribble and defend against the best of them.
Hayward is second on the team in points per-36 minutes with 18.6, so it just shows how much he has improved as a scorer since he came into the league.
Williams still has two years left on his contract, but he would most likely be delegated into a bench role next season, as the 22-year-old Hayward continues to harness his incredible potential.
PF: Derrick Favors
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The 21-year-old athletic behemoth named Derrick Favors would only be the starting power forward if the Jazz choose not to re-sign Paul Millsap.
Millsap has already rejected an offer for a contract extension earlier this season (per Mark Bruty of Hoops Nation), so it's unlikely that the Jazz would offer him a bigger contract in the offseason, especially with Favors waiting in the wings.
Favors probably has a case to start over Millsap right now. He's not as polished offensively as Millsap is, but he is already a better rebounder and defender. He posts per-36 minute averages of 15.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.3 blocks.
Once Favors improves his offensive game, he'll be a force to be reckoned with. But he won't be given the chance to improve if he remains a 20-minute bench player forever.
C: Al Jefferson
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As much as I love Enes Kanter's game, I don't believe he will be thrown into the starting lineup just yet.
I also don't think the Jazz would let both of their All-Star caliber big men walk away in the offseason for nothing in return. I'd prefer to see Millsap remain with the team because his versatility and all-around game would benefit his teammates much more than the ball-stopping Al Jefferson.
However, Jefferson would probably be the player re-signed to remain the Jazz's starting center.
Everything else aside, Jefferson is one of the best offensive centers in the league, with exceptional footwork and scoring abilities around the rim.
It would be crazy to let go of Jefferson for absolutely nothing, even if he isn't the greatest defender. A frontcourt tandem of Favors and Jefferson would complement one another very well, as Favors' monstrous defensive presence in the paint could cover up for Jefferson's lapses on defense.